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Washington, DC—The newest edition of a biweekly report from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence shows powerful momentum is on the side of safety as states take action against gun violence. Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, recent editions of Gun Law Trendwatch have shown that lawmakers across the country— both in states with weak gun safety records, like Vermont and Florida, and in states with stronger laws, like New York and Oregon—are stepping up to pass lifesaving legislation, defying calls from the gun lobby to dismantle our country’s gun laws. Thanks to the unyielding cries for change of Americans from all walks of life and the efforts of gun violence prevention advocates like Giffords, since Parkland, legislatures and governors have signed 18 bills into law in 12 states that will help keep guns out of dangerous hands.
“Since the horrific tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, we’ve seen state legislatures across the country respond to the demands of everyday Americans to take action to save lives from gun violence,” said Allison Anderman, managing attorney of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “They have done so even as the gun lobby has mounted a furious campaign to weaken our gun laws. But lawmakers understand that inaction in the wake of tragedy is no longer acceptable, and because of that, more Americans in all areas of the country will be better protected from gun violence. This momentum will only grow stronger as we continue to call for our leaders to stand up and protect their communities from the deadly threat of gun violence.”
Recent polling continues to show that voters from across the political spectrum want to see elected officials act to strengthen our gun laws. Americans know that gun violence and gun safety measures are not partisan issues, and statehouses across the country are beginning to agree. Many of the states that have acted are led by Republicans, and gun violence prevention is shaping up to be a defining issue in the 2018 election.
Since the Parkland shooting, the states that have signed gun safety bills into law include:
Vermont: Vermont, a state with virtually zero gun laws and high gun ownership enacted a gun safety package with the approval of its Republican governor. The state will now require background checks on most gun sales and allow state law enforcement officials to petition courts for extreme risk protection orders, which temporarily prevent people who pose a demonstrated risk of violence from having access to firearms, among other measures.
Florida: Florida, a state with a history of recklessly weak gun laws, recently passed a gun safety reform package backed by a Republican legislature that included critical policies, including raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, banning bump stocks, and establishing an extreme risk protection order.
Oregon: Oregon was the first state to pass a gun safety bill following the Parkland tragedy. It strengthened protections for domestic violence survivors by adding dating partners and stalkers to the list of abusers prohibited from accessing firearms.
Ohio: Ohio, a state with historically weak gun laws and a Republican governor, enacted a law that protects survivors of dating violence by allowing them to obtain domestic violence protection orders.
Utah: Utah, another state with a poor track record on gun violence prevention and a Republican-controlled legislature and governor, enacted a law to expand domestic violence protective orders to include dating relationships. The new law also requires that law enforcement officers responding to an allegation of stalking or dating violence use all reasonable means to protect the victim and prevent further violence, including confiscating any weapons involved in the alleged incidents.
Washington: Washington State passed several new laws since Parkland, prohibiting trigger modification devices like bump stocks and adding domestic violence harassment to the list of offenses that prohibit a person from possessing a firearm.
New York: New York continues to be at the forefront of gun safety legislation, recently strengthening its domestic violence gun laws. Specifically, a new law expands which domestic violence misdemeanors are firearms-prohibiting and extends domestic violence-related firearm restrictions to all guns. It also creates procedures for prohibited people to relinquish their firearms and makes people ineligible for a firearms license and possession when they are the subject of an outstanding warrant for a felony or serious offense.
This new wave of gun safety activity and engagement builds on efforts from last year’s legislative session, when state legislators passed 16 lifesaving policies highlighted by Giffords, including strengthening background checks and closing domestic violence loopholes. In 2017, 13 states also rejected measures to allow guns on campus, and legislators in 20 states defeated measures to allow people to carry loaded, concealed firearms in public without a permit. This continuing success is further evidence that the gun violence prevention movement has maintained the historic momentum generated in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school five years ago. In fact, since 2013, nearly 230 gun laws that make communities safer have been enacted in 45 states and the District of Columbia.